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Old 01-30-2007, 03:52 PM   #1
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I am in search of information. Our story is this:
May 2006 Purchased new 5th wl, toy hauler with a brand new Valley Industries hitch included in the sales price, 15K load. June 06, traveled 8 - 900 miles from CA to AZ when the hitch let go of our trailer. All locking mechanisms were done properly, pull test done, visual inspect x4 (4 people in our party), no problems. We were fortunate that the accident happened at a gas stop, my Teenagers were in the 5th wl. The accident totalled the bed of our TV, a 79 Ford F350, fully rebuilt. The accident happened after we gased up, we backed out of the station veering slightly to the right, then pulled forward to the left into a wide, gentle left hand U turn. As soon as we came out of the U turn so did the Kingpin out of our hitch head. With this particular hitch we believe that when we backed up we released the weight load on the locking mechanism of the hitch, thereby allowing the lock plate to relax down, 5/8", (designed that way), then when we turned to the left the Kingpin popped up onto the lock plate, instead of the lock plate locking around the kingpin. When we came out of the turn, the trailer fell on our truck. We were 5 days into our 8 week cross country trip, we weren't going home. We had to ship our 79 home,w/Valley Hitch, purchase a new truck, install a new Reese hitch and continue on, loosing 5 days off our trip. The whole accident has put us heavily into debt. We are looking for anyone out there that may have similar accidents with the Valley Industries 5th wheel hitches. Drop us a response if you can help. Thank you. God Bless.
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Old 01-30-2007, 03:52 PM   #2
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I am in search of information. Our story is this:
May 2006 Purchased new 5th wl, toy hauler with a brand new Valley Industries hitch included in the sales price, 15K load. June 06, traveled 8 - 900 miles from CA to AZ when the hitch let go of our trailer. All locking mechanisms were done properly, pull test done, visual inspect x4 (4 people in our party), no problems. We were fortunate that the accident happened at a gas stop, my Teenagers were in the 5th wl. The accident totalled the bed of our TV, a 79 Ford F350, fully rebuilt. The accident happened after we gased up, we backed out of the station veering slightly to the right, then pulled forward to the left into a wide, gentle left hand U turn. As soon as we came out of the U turn so did the Kingpin out of our hitch head. With this particular hitch we believe that when we backed up we released the weight load on the locking mechanism of the hitch, thereby allowing the lock plate to relax down, 5/8", (designed that way), then when we turned to the left the Kingpin popped up onto the lock plate, instead of the lock plate locking around the kingpin. When we came out of the turn, the trailer fell on our truck. We were 5 days into our 8 week cross country trip, we weren't going home. We had to ship our 79 home,w/Valley Hitch, purchase a new truck, install a new Reese hitch and continue on, loosing 5 days off our trip. The whole accident has put us heavily into debt. We are looking for anyone out there that may have similar accidents with the Valley Industries 5th wheel hitches. Drop us a response if you can help. Thank you. God Bless.
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Old 01-30-2007, 04:54 PM   #3
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Welcome to iRV2, we're really glad to have you here as a new member and are very sorry to learn of the misfortune with the hitch. You'll find a great bunch of folks on this site who are very knowledgeable of RVing, the rigs we use, and the places we go in them. Hopefully, they'll be of help to you with the hitch question.

As you'll soon see, they're eager to help and share their knowledge and experiences with others.

Have you heard anything from Valley Industries regarding why the hitch failed?

Again, welcome to iRV2, we're glad you joined.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:03 PM   #4
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No, Valley Industries claims human error. In fact, one of their MGMT people informed me that we MUST have Toploaded our hitch and that is why it let go of our trailer. After 200 miles of traveling the hiways? He claims that Valley hitches are designed so that they can be toploaded and still pull a trailer. We meet with them next week to inspect the hitch. They've been putting us off until now. And now they are no longer Valley Industries, they were bought by Thule Towing Systems. We are seeking damages at this point. If we have to file suit we will seek lost wages, as our trip was a business trip. But we don't want to go to court. The only people that come out ahead in court are the Lawyers.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:04 PM   #5
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Thanks for the warm welcome. Looking forward to talking with this community.
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Old 01-30-2007, 06:15 PM   #6
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Glad to see you here, and sorry about your problems. I test tug my hitch and also make a visual inspection to see that the bar is closed and the hitch is seated. I also use a pad lock on the arm to make sure it stays were it belongs.

I have heard stores of folks with too much time on their hands pulling hitch latches and also pins on towed car tow bars.

Ken
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Old 01-30-2007, 09:04 PM   #7
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Well, I' going to say welcome to iRV2.com.

However, I have to say, I have a bit of problem with your statement. If you dropped your 5th wheel on your bed rails that doesn't disable your truck. It just makes your truck a mess. So... why did you have to buy a new truck? And, as to the hitch, I can't say because I'm not familiar with the Valley hitch but most of what you describe is not a trip ending situation because of the hitch. Guess I need more understanding. Thanks.
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Old 01-31-2007, 04:54 AM   #8
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Although I've heard an instance or two of a 5th wheel coming unhitched after hundreds of miles on the road (typically a "high hitch", but hitch failures are possible), this sounds like the most probable scenario is that a vandal released the hitch during the fuel stop.

As the others have said, welcome to iRV2, and sorry you enter under such circumstances.

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Old 01-31-2007, 11:29 AM   #9
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Hi Tom & Rusty, thank you for the welcome. Clarification...trip ending due to the fact that the bed of our classic truck was damaged to the point that my husband feared the frame could be compromised. Repairing a fully rebuilt 79 Ford isn't as simple as hiring a mechanic & body shop to fix it up. It's a hobby truck, like most classics are, but it is also a very functional truck. We were 900 miles from home and we were not going to trust our truck to someone we didn't know or trust. Our 5th wheel is a 37'(38.5' actually), so the damage was considerable, and 6 months later it is still being repaired. No way we were going to put our brand new 5th WL back on that hitch. It was our worst nightmare come to life. Also, the reference to tampering....interesting, I never would have thought about that. Why a person would want to tamper with a hitch eludes me, but so does most of human behavior. We did leave our vehicle while fueling, however, we did our usual walk-around and everything was still latched & locked, pins in, locking mechanism in proper order, insertion pin in the out position. On Valley hitches there is a pin facing the TV's back window. When the kingpin is properly locked in, that pin sticks out. Since we are very new at RVing we did a lot of overkill when it came to checks & rechecks. As I mentioned before, we have a theory, and we also believe that this was one of those accidents that happens to one in a million, we just happened to be the one. We didn't topload or "high hitch", and immediatly after the accident we took photos of everything, all the locking mechanisms, pins and connections to the hitch were still in their locked position. So, we are attempting to find people, preferably on the west coast, that may have similar accidents with the Valley hitches. Thanks for all the warm welcomes, I look forward to many discussions on the site. We've already viewed many helpful discussions. God Bless!
Brenda & Earl
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Old 01-31-2007, 04:06 PM   #10
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Hello Brenda and Earl,
I did have a Valley Industries Hitch. It was a 16K UBS (Under Bed mounting System). So I know the pin that sticks out when you are connected correctly. If you high hitched, you would not have gotten the 'pin out' indication. The Valley hitch was just fine with our 35' 12K GVWR fiver. But when we moved up to our Cyclone 3795 toyhauler with a GVWR of 18K, we had to get a new hitch. We did bring it home with the 16K my 'seat of the pants' impression was that even empty, our new trailer was too much for the 16K hitch, it just had a sloppy feeling to it. If you care, we went with a big, rigid (not air) trailer saver hitch with a 26K Binkley head on it. What a world of difference. So I must ask you, because any decent lawyer is going to as will Valley Industries, what is the GVWR of that 38' toy hauler? And what was the actual weight of it when it was loaded for a 9 week trip? Welcome to the forum.
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Old 01-31-2007, 07:26 PM   #11
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Hi Jeffrey,
GVW of the 5th was appxmtly 13,500 at the time of the accident. We had left an RV site that had full hookups so we emptied the tanks prior to going to the Grand Canyon. Fully loaded, tanks and all we weigh in at 14,500, still within limits. Dry we weigh 10,500. We now have a Reese hitch 16k that we really like. It pivots all the way around, which the Valley did not. Also, if we had high hitched there would have been a gap between the kingpin plate and the hitch head, and there would be metal scrapes on the locking plate and kingpin, due to the pressure of high hitching. Since none of that exists, along with the other factors, we are confident that we did not high hitch. You know the problem with Attorney's.... well, too many to go thru them all, but our case isn't anything an attorney wants, no one was hurt. If someone had been injured or killed we'd have attorneys beating down our door. But since you appearently can't get pain & suffering out of property damage, we have no attorney. And that's really not the direction we want to go with this. The only people that win in court are the Lawyers. We just want to find out if our theory is plausable, and if it is, the design needs to be adjusted so that this doesn't happen again. We'll keep an update on our progress. Thanks for all the great information and welcomes.
For anyone traveling the West coast, Northern Cal is sunny and 65. Rain is a faint memory. Stay safe out there.
Brenda
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:55 AM   #12
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That is pretty light for such a big toy hauler. I wrongly assumed that you had a double pivot. Our Valley was. I wonder if yours had been a double pivot, if it would have come unhitched? U turns do really put wierd stresses on things. We never had a problem with our Valley hitch. I have never had a high hitch occur either. I like to hitch so that the truck squats abit as it slides under the king pin. Some will disagree, but I figure if the truck squats abit, then it is nearly impossible for a high hitch to occur. With the Valley hitch, I think a high hitch is possible, because that jaw that grabbed the backside of the king pin was only 1/2" thick and perhaps it could have bent the jaw down, thus just wedging the king pin in place. But as you stated, that indication tang would have never stuck out. So I too agree it sounds like you were hitched properly. As you discovered, all hitches are not created equal. You will be happy with your new hitch. Happy travels.
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:35 PM   #13
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Hey Jeffrey - BIG dogs???? What kind of dogs? We have English Mastiffs - 2, male & female. We took them and our 2 springers across country with us last summer. We have kennels we haul in the garage of our Toy Hauler. We too load our trailer so that the truck squats. We have air bags on our truck that help with the squat.
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Old 02-02-2007, 04:22 AM   #14
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Hi Brenda,
Thats exactly what we use the garage in our toy hauler for. Its great to have a back door to bring in muddy / wet dogs and have room to towel them off. Still working on a better way to keep them comfortable in weather extremes. Our garage floor is not insulated, so it does get pretty cold, we use electric heaters when we a stopped. The rest of the time we leave the interior door open and use fans to blow the comfortable air back to them. As for the type of dogs?...well...I hate getting flamed so I won't answer your question directly. They are a 2 colored dog, the breed standard for the male is 125 pounds and 27" at the shoulder. So you should be able to figure it out. We do not and will not breed them, we take in high quality breeder rejects from select breeders around the country and neuter / spay them. We also take in dumps and strays, only from this breed, and only after carefull evaluation. We limit our 'kennel' to two dogs. Campground owners forbid us, unless they really need the money. So we stay in state parks and city parks. We are headed to Dauphin Island, AL park the end of March to let them frolic in the gulf. Happy travels.
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